Saturday, August 20, 2005


Last week, Monica and I went to Haridwar to visit her Grandpa at his ashram. Haridwar is one of Hinduism's holiest cities because it is the point where the Ganges enters the plains from the Himalayan mountains. Some people also believe it's Vishnu's footprint or something (if you are interested in this please research it yourself). Millions of people come to bathe there at a spot called Har-ki-pauri. Monica and I both took dips there. It was cool!
Monica's grandfather is a Sanyasi. He lives a fairly ascetic life and wears only orange. He has reached a philosophical state of mind that is rare in the world of men.
His eyesight is in decline so it is difficult for him to read. Nowadays he listens to the radio and tapes a lot.
At one point he was chilling out and put on this tape he called "Water Sounds". It was some high-New Age, nature sounds music. I was like, Where'd you get this??!?
He said some American woman who came to Haridwar gave it to his wife. We asked him if he liked the tape. He said some tapes are quiet and when he feels like listening to quiet tapes he likes it.
Monica told me to explain New Age music to him. I tried:
"This music comes from California. It was invented in the 1970's by Americans interested in meditation and Eastern philosophy. It is meant to help your mind relax."
He wasn't too interested.
Later I told him that if he liked the tape, I could mail him some more New Age tapes. He said something to the effect of, "Whateva! I don't even like it!"
This story has two levels. On one level, there is the cultural loop of a Sanyasi at a genuine Indian Ashram listening to some weak-ass American New Age music and just being like whateva. That's just funny! Know what I mean? So much of New Age culture comes across as Hindu/Buddhist/Yoga/Zen-lite that by the time it gets back to it's supposed source (India, Hindus, etc) it seems so diluted that it's basically meaningless.
I think if you really went deep on the above paragraph in a convo with your friends you could discover so much more than I have. You might very well contradict me. Please share your discoveries with the internet community.
Man, that reminds me:
we also went to the holy city of Rishikesh which is near Haridwar and walked on the famous Lakshman Jhula. Rishikesh is such a mecca for Westerners seeking some of that "old wisdom" that there are all these "German Bakeries" and "Genuine Israeli Restaurants" with "Home-made Thuhini [sic]". Don't get me wrong; it's a cool town, but you see so many of these crunchy German hippies on motorcycles that you feel weird. Some places even sell hackeysacks! I felt kind of torn about that.
I saw this one hippie dude with bright, red hair and some tribal tattoos around his ankles. I think he was speaking French. He seemed like such a clown to me!
Rishikesh has so many Yoga centers and spirtual retreats; you know a fair percentage are probably bogus as hell!
Now, some of you (especially the sizeable German readership) may be wondering how I fit into the picture at a place like Rishikesh. You're right! I'm not being fair to those hippies. I'm just a tourist too. Maybe I see the bigger picture better than those hippies, but who knows!?? If they can back up that big hippie game they probably see the biggest picture of all and I'm just a squirrel in their world trying to get a nut. Those tribal tattoos looked pretty cool...
Also, Monica's mom warned us not to look and dress like hippies. She said that for Indians, hippie/backpacker types exude a dirty and perhaps offensive vibe. I can see where she's coming from.

The other and perhaps more important level of the "water sounds" story is that Monica's grandfather didn't really like or dislike the New Age music; he just experienced it. He refused to make an absolute statement about it. It is what is. Earlier in our visit he had the radio on and it was playing some truly shitty American pop-punk-pop.
Monica was like "Grandpa, you like this?"
He said, "I like what I have. I'm happy. If you worry and criticize everything you'll never be happy..."
I really respect his attitude about music. I can't imagine my Grandma vibing out to some pop-punk or New Age. Maybe I should ask her... The key point is that the man is still listening to music at the age of 80. Also, he is not a hater. I don't know if I can escape from the Wheel of Life at this stage in the game, but I can do my best to follow Balram's (that's his name) example and not be a hater.
I can try and be happy and find the life in all the music I think is crappy. See what a hippie I am? Me and Hippie Jonny are two sides of the same coin. We're the SAME SIDE, actually! Holy shit, I'm beyond Thunderdome right now! I guess I'm not really a hippie. I'm just a shitty old movie nerd.. : (
See where the WHEEL takes us? In a circle! Now i'm a hippie again...
OK, pizza's here so I gotta go. One last thing: I looked at the tape after our convo with Grandpa and it was from Bakersfield, CA! LOFL! I should have written down the other info about it.